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Fulton Explores Becoming Charter School System | Schools

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Fulton Explores Becoming Charter School System
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ATLANTA -- Fulton County Schools will spend this fall studying whether it will ask the Georgia Department of Education to grant charter status to the entire school system.

If granted, Fulton County will be the first large district in Georgia to become a charter system, which could mean more flexibility in spending, staffing and innovation to its educational model. It would also grant greater involvement and decision-making authority for parents.

Community engagement is a trademark of charter systems and, as such, the district is starting the exploration process by holding town hall-style meetings to gather input during the months of October and November. Feedback will also be gathered through the school system's website.

The community engagement meetings will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for employees, and from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for parents and the community.

The dates are as follows:

* Monday, Oct. 18: Johns Creek High School (5575 State Bridge Road, Johns Creek, 30022)

* Tuesday, Oct. 19: Westlake High School (2400 Union Road SW, Atlanta, 30331)

* Wednesday, Oct. 27: Roswell High School (11595 King Road, Roswell, 30075)

* Wednesday, Nov. 3: Independence High School at the Milton Center (86 School Drive, Alpharetta, 30009)

* Thursday, Nov. 4: Creekside High School (7405 Herndon Road, Fairburn, 30213)

* Wednesday, Nov. 10: Tri-Cities High School (2575 Harris Street, East Point, 30344)

* Thursday, Nov. 11: Riverwood International Charter High School (5900 Heards Drive NW, Sandy Springs, 30328)

A system charter is a five-year contract between the school system and the state that defines the operational and instructional practices that will be in place at each school in the system. At the school level, these practices would be selected by a local school governing council. In exchange for increased flexibility, the charter system must demonstrate improved performance over the term of the contract.

Two years ago, the state legislature passed a law allowing school systems to become charter systems. By June 2013, every district in Georgia must decide whether it will become an Investing in Excellence in Education (IE2) system, a charter system, or publicly acknowledge it is content with its current status.

Fulton County Schools is already a leader in establishing charter schools, with six conversion charter schools and eight start-up charter schools. As a result, each year many additional schools express interest in this innovative approach to education.

Becoming a charter system addresses the flexibility system-wide with less burden to individual schools. Additionally, the system studied IE2 in 2009, and it was determined that charter status is more in line with Fulton County Schools' educational policy and desire for flexibility.

Other Georgia school districts to become charter systems include Chattahoochee County Schools, Decatur City Schools, Floyd County Schools, Marietta City Schools, Putnam County Schools and Warren County Schools.

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